Soil erosion is a natural process. Over time, wind and water will wash away part of your garden’s topsoil. However, soil erosion needs to be controlled. Otherwise, your garden’s landscaping might be damaged (uncontrolled soil erosion can carve deep unsightly gullies). Not to mention most of your garden’s healthy garden topsoil might be washed away, making it harder to grow plants.
How can you keep soil erosion in your garden under control? Barry Best Seamless Gutters, your trusted retractable awning installation and gutter contractor, shares some tips in this guide.
Plant More Shrubs and Grass
Plants’ roots prevent soil erosion by binding soil together. The plants that are good at preventing soil erosion tend to be resistant to drought and usually have fibrous roots (for sediment control) and wide, spreading foliage (to keep heavy rain from washing away too much topsoil).
We recommend planting these grass and shrub varieties in your garden:
- Fescue or Festuca spp. – Shade-tolerant grass is better than sun-loving grass because they won’t wilt away even when under wide, spreading foliage. In general, most cool-season grass varieties tolerate shade better than warm-season grasses. Fescue, also known as Festuca spp., is a shade-tolerant variety that’s widely available in both seed blends and as sod. The seed blend is less expensive than sod but takes more time to grow in. If you want more immediate coverage, sod is the better option.
- Japanese Surge (Pachysandra terminalis) – Japanese Surge provides an evergreen carpet that can protect the topsoil from heavy rain. And in summer, Japanese Surge can provide a subtle display of creamy white flowers underneath your trees (Japanese Surge stays under 10 inches tall).
- Ostrich ferns – These vase-shaped plants grow up to 3 feet tall. Its roots also spread quickly to cover bare, shady slopes.
- St. John’s Wort (Hypericum prolificum) – This hardy shrub can adapt to a wide variety of soil conditions but is especially suited to flood-prone areas.
- Creeping plum yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘prostrata’) – Creeping plum yew can quickly fill your backyard with a solid mass of 2-feet-tall glossy, fern-like foliage.
- Creeping Phlox – To add a pop of spring color to your backyard, plant creeping phlox, which have been traditionally used to beautify slopes while controlling soil erosion.
Important note: If you’re planning to plant shrubs on a slope, your irrigation system’s water pressure should be strong enough to cover the entire area. You also might want to consider installing retractable awnings to protect outdoor furniture, which you’ll need if you want to fully enjoy your landscaped garden.
The said plants should be able to prevent erosion on slopes of up to 33 percent or 1 foot of elevation change for every 3 feet of horizontal distance. However, to prevent soil erosion on slopes that are greater than 50 percent, structures like retaining walls need to be erected.
Erect Baffles or Barriers
Baffles, which are composed of partially buried stone or wood laid parallel to the slope, minimize soil erosion by diverting water flowing down low-slope areas.
Build Riprap in Your Sloped Garden
For steeper slopes, landscapers would recommend erecting riprap, which is made of loose stone slabs (usually granite) that are each at least 6-8 inches wide. The stones are embedded or scattered across the slope to divert water running downhill. However, riprap might draw too much attention to themselves in some landscape designs. To soften their impact on the landscape design, you can plant shrubs between the stones.
Divide the Slope Into Terraces
Terracing involves dividing the sloped garden into sections where water can be easily distributed and allowed to seep into the ground. The terraces should have a slope of about 2% to keep water from accumulating at the back of the terraced portion. Given that terracing involves highly technical
Here’s a pro-tip: Terrace gardens provide beautiful sceneries, which you’d be able to enjoy more if you had some sort of protection from the harsh sun. You can plant tall shrubs near your patio furniture or install retractable awnings to shield you from damaging ultraviolet rays while you’re enjoying your new terrace garden.
Important note: While soil erosion is often thought of as a gardening problem, it can also become a concern for your home’s structural integrity. For instance, if there’s erosion near the foundation walls of your home, you might encounter issues such as:
- Cracked basement walls – If the water that washed away the soil near your foundation starts to accumulate, pressure on the foundation walls increases. This outward and downward pressure will eventually ease when the water dries up. However, before the water dries up, the pressure can cause cracks to form on your foundation wall, allowing water to infiltrate your basement.
- Water ingress – Water can infiltrate crawl spaces or your basement through cracks in the foundation wall. Eventually, you may notice water pooling on the basement floor or a musty odor coming from mold that formed as a result of excess moisture.
How Do You Protect Your Basement From Soil Erosion?
It’s important to make sure your gutters—your roof’s first line of defense against the elements—is kept free of leaves and debris. Otherwise, the debris will keep rainwater from flowing to the drains, causing it to spill onto your roof, exterior, and eventually your foundation. That’s why routine gutter maintenance is a must if you want to protect your home’s exterior and foundation walls from moisture damage and the long-term effects of soil erosion. And for added protection, there’s the option of installing awnings, which shield outdoor furniture and parts of your exterior from the elements and overflowing water.
Just don’t have the time for chores like gutter cleaning? Or wish it could be just a bit more convenient? You can reduce your gutter’s maintenance needs by installing gutter guards, which prevent leaves and other debris from entering and clogging your gutters. Keep in mind that gutter guards can only reduce, not eliminate, your gutter’s maintenance needs. That is except for Gutter Helmet®, the only brand on the market with a Never Clean Your Gutters Again® guarantee.
How Does Gutter Helmet Work?
Gutter Helmet gutter guards take advantage of surface tension to channel water to your gutters. Surface tension happens when water molecules stick tightly to each other when they have nowhere else to cling to. A good example of surface tension would be how water in glass forms a dome right before it spills over. When rain hits Gutter Helmet’s textured-and-ribbed surface, water is directed to the gutter covers’ patented nose-forward design, allowing it to enter your gutters while keeping leaves, twigs, and other kinds of debris out.
Do Your Gutters Need to Be Replaced?
What if water keeps flowing out of your gutters despite it being routinely cleaned? Your gutters might not have enough capacity to handle the average amount of rainfall in your area. In which case, you’ll need to replace it.
Here’s a pro-tip: If you’re planning on installing new gutters, seamless gutters would be a smart investment. As the name suggests, they don’t have gutter joints or seams (also known as the weak point of conventional gutter systems), which makes them less leak-prone than conventional gutters.
One more thing: To make sure your new gutters and awnings are installed properly, only qualified contractors should handle their installation. Remember: Always vet a contractor before hiring them.
Looking for gutter contractors near your area? Here’s a vetting tip: The number of years a contractor has been in business should give you a good idea of their level of expertise.
Barry Best Seamless Gutters, a contractor with nearly three decades of experience, offers a wide range of gutter installation and retractable awning installation services. To get a free estimate, call us at (315) 697-5000 or fill out this form.